James Charles, the first male brand ambassador for U.S. make-up brand CoverGirl, has provoked criticism for comments he made about Ebola. The 17-year-old model sparked anger after tweeting about a trip to South Africa, “‘I can’t believe we’re going to Africa today omg what if we get Ebola.’ ‘James we’re fine we could’ve gotten it at chipotle last year’.”
The Ebola outbreak of March 2014 to June 2016 killed 11,310 people across West Africa, affecting Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone worst of all.
Charles’ appointment as brand ambassador in October 2016 was a first in the world of make-up and won CoverGirl recognition for embracing inclusivity in championing a teenage boy who pushed the boundaries by his provocative use of make-up on Instagram. However, as noted by Affinity Magazine, Charles did not immediately apologize for the tweet and responded negatively to some critics.
A couple of hours after his original tweet, Charles did apologize; however, he added salt to the wound by calling Africa a country instead of a continent.
CoverGirl released a statement in which they made it clear they did not condone the tweet. It read: “We agree his statements were inappropriate but appreciate that he has issued an apology. We are an inclusive brand and respect all people and cultures.”
On December 23, 2016, the World Health Organization reported that a trial for a potential Ebola vaccine had proven successful.